Book Review: I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

ad036bc6e452ea33f4d6331c0b6da8e3I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

by Malala Yousafzai, with Christina Lamb
ISBN 9780316322409
Little, Brown and Company, 2013

If one man, Fazlullah, can destroy everything, why can’t one girl change it?” —Malala Yousafzai

In her adolescent, compassionate voice, Malala tells a story of ripe, harsh brutality. Her book answers the question, “Who is Malala?”—the challenge shouted on October 9, 2012 by the gun man who shot her in a targeted attack on her school bus.

Who is Malala?

Malala is a teenager like any other and a teenager worlds apart. Like a typical teen, she leaves her clothes all over the floor; unlike most teenagers, she daydreams about terrorists shooting her at the door of her house. Like a typical teen, she reads Twilight books; unlike most teenagers, she speaks in front of the UN and receives the Nobel Peace Prize.

She is a Pashtun girl born into a culture that prompted her to wonder “how free a daughter could ever be.” Parents grant privileges to sons over daughters. Segregation, child marriage, honour killings still happen. Malala is lucky though, because she is the daughter of a father who celebrated, instead of mourned, the birth of a daughter, and a father who believes strongly in education for all.

Malala is a girl watched Taliban influence over others grow and distort. The Taliban quash music and dancing. They destroy ancient Buddhist temples and statues. They limit the public appearances of women and insist on the burqa. Murders, beheadings, and public floggings become common occurrences. Malala’s tale shadows that of 1994 Rwanda: a similar frenzy of hatred fanned by radio propaganda, and slaughter fueled by radical group madness.

“Wearing a burqa is like walking inside big, fabric shuttlecock with only a grille to see through and on hot days it’s like an oven.”

Malala is a girl who sets aside fear and summons courage to continue to fight for education for all. She writes: “I think that if someone kills your brother, you shouldn’t kill them or their brother, you should teach them instead.”

This book is all the more powerful because it is a young, hopeful voice that outlines the horrific, soul-crushing events. Her story informs, enlightens and challenges readers.


“To all the girls who have faced injustice and been silenced.
Together we will be heard.”
—Epigraph from I Am Malala



About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on October 15, 2014, in Autobiography, Biography, Book reviews, Books I borrowed, Memoir and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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